Each guest’s place was marked with a gravestone engraved with his or her name, and instead of the customary soft couches, they reclined on rock-hard benches. The terrified guests assumed they were about to be murdered by the emperor — a vicious predator who had cruelly executed many Senators in the past — and their fears was not assuaged by the nightmarish meal that followed. A string of naked serving boys emerged from the shadows. Painted black from head to toe, they carried food that was itself dyed black and served on black onyx plates. Only the emperor’s voice broke the sepulchral silence. He droned on monotonously about the inevitability of death and decay.

via The Smart Set: The Dinner Party from Hell – August 31, 2009.